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The State Of MP3 Players in 2016

So about a month ago I  had a totally random thought about MP3 players – what made me think about this particular subject I will never know. The last time I used an MP3 player was… well I can’t quite remember. I’m pretty sure it was an iPod Touch back in 2013. All I can remember is I had the iPod Touch a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and I sold them both and picked up a 32GB Nexus 7 2012. I haven’t used an MP3 player since and I’m curious to see if people still use them and if so, in what scenarios.

Speaking to the rest of the MTT team in Slack most of us don’t use one daily. In fact if I recall correctly the only people that did were Mark and Jeffery. Mark, well I’m not really surprised, since he is our in-house audiophile. For Jeffery he said “I’m only using it 2 weeks a year during the summer vacation when I’m going to Spain. I hate it when all the dust and sand gets on my phone during a visit to the beach”. This makes sense however asking a small group wasn’t going to give me any idea on the state of them.

Spreading the net further, I put together a Google Form, blasted it on the Internet and wait for responses.

All In all I got 23 responses. Not a lot but it’ll do. The questions I asked were:

  • Do you use an MP3 player?
  • Do you use a phone (with no SIM in it) as an MP3 player?
  • If you do, why do you use it?
  • If you don’t use an MP3 player/spare phone with no SIM in it, when was the last time you used one?

Four simple questions which should provide me the answers I seek. The results are as expected really, with the bulk of responses coming from Head-Fi.

Some of the responses I got were:

  • Phones have no battery life and sound poor.
  • It’s convenient, the UI is far better compared to a smartphone and I simply like it.
  • Just as a standby unit. It has only a few songs.
  • More memory, convenience of having something even if phone battery has died.

Some one said they used a Nexus One whilst they were at the gym which was nice to see; keeping the old hardware alive. When asked if you don’t use an MP3 player/spare phone with no SIM in it, why, the answers I got pointed towards one device being easier, Spotify, and a lack of spare devices.

When I asked about the last time they used a MP3 player the responses ranged from 2 years ago right back to 10 years ago when someone had a Blackberry. This reminds me of back in 2012/2013 when Blackberry’s where popular for teens due to Blackberry Messenger – a lot of time has passed since then. Back then, I was using a BlackBerry Curve 8520 and the one thing I used to use along side it was an iPod Touch. This was what others of my age were doing too but once everyone left the Blackberry’s and changed to iPhone’s, most people stopped using the iPod’s. This is where I thought the MP3 player died but clearly not.

Whilst I’m not surprised the audiophiles are still using them for higher quality audio there is the functionality to consider. A few people said to me in person, streaming music is a whole lot easier than syncing music and podcasts. Even buying music from iTunes and downloading it to their iPhone’s and iPad’s is still easier than syncing items, through a computer.

Where do I think MP3 players will be in future?

Simple answer I don’t really know. Apple haven’t really done much to upgrade the iPod line and most of the others I see are made are for the audiophile. I would probably say that it would continue the way it is. Over time the MP3 player may fade out but I don’t think it’ll be anytime soon and there seems to be a lot of secondary device use going on which should keep the devices in people’s hands and pockets for some time yet.

I don’t intend to ever go back to one myself. Spotify and Pocketcasts are a brilliant combination and for me, my Smartphone will continue to be my one stop shop for my audio needs.

Let me know in the comments whether you use an MP3 device, what for and why. We like retro kit here at MTT and we’d love to see what secondary devices you’re rocking for music playback!

About Chris Wallace

Techie, Gamer, Biker

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